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Misogyny to count as hate crime in bid to stop violence against women

The Government announced the ‘experimental’ change on Wednesday (Picture: PA/AFP)

Police will record misogyny as a hate crime after the Government was pressured by campaigners to toughen laws to protect women.

Forces in England and Wales will now be ordered to record all crimes that are believed to be motivated by ‘hostility based on’ the victim’s sex.

Among the crimes included will be harassment, stalking and sexual offences, announced Home Office minister Baroness Williams of Trafford on Wednesday.

Baroness Williams said the change would initially be implemented on an ‘experimental basis’ from the autumn, with a long-term decision expected after the Law Commission’s review into hate crime is complete.

Seven constabularies already record misogyny as a hate crime but all 42 will now be instructed to do so by the Home Office.

Campaigners hope the move will pave the way to give judges further powers to impose tougher sentences for crimes involving abuse and harassment.

Concerns had been raised about the low number of successful prosecutions against rapists and stalkers, while activists warned many women fear they will not be believed if they report crimes to police.

Sarah Everard memorial Sarah Everard memorial, London, UK

The death of Sarah Everard has sparked a fresh focus on laws to better protect women (Picture: Rex)

It comes after the death of Sarah Everard and the Met Police’s handling of a vigil in her memory sparked renewed calls for the Government to counteract violence against women and girls.

Labour MP Stella Creasy, who has been leading calls for a law change, said recording crimes motivated by a ‘hatred of women’ will ‘help us better understand the scale of the problem’ and improve efforts to prevent such crimes.

She said: ‘I’m delighted that the government has listened to this cross-party and grassroots campaign to make misogyny a hate crime and is now taking the first steps towards making it happen.’

‘It should give all women confidence that if they come forward to report crimes they will be taken seriously, too,’ she added.

The Fawcett Society said they were ‘delighted’ the Government had listened to their campaign after it received ‘overwhelming public support’.

Chief executive Felicia Willow said: ‘It’s essential that women have the confidence to report crimes and that they are taken seriously when they do.

‘This is a major step forward in changing how we understand, address and prevent violence against women – and one that we hope will help change attitudes towards women.’

Domestic Abuse Commissioner Nicole Jacobs added: ‘I strongly welcome the Government’s plans to ask police forces to collect data on whether violent crimes are committed on the basis of someone’s sex or gender. This is a vital step forward in helping to ensure that we have a more complete picture of the extensive nature of violence against women and girls.

‘I look forward to working with the Government and police forces to make the most of this opportunity, and hope to see the pilot result in a requirement for forces to record this information in the long term.’

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